AU College Democrats hosts town hall for SG candidates
Lickstein, Fedasiuk, Pancotti and Schneider earn endorsement
Before the SG presidential debate on Thursday, the AU College Democrats hosted a town hall with all of the candidates running for president, vice president, comptroller and secretary.
AU Dems ultimately endorsed Haley Lickstein for president, Ryan Fedasiuk for vice president, Elizabeth Pancotti for comptroller and Kris Schneider for secretary.
The presidential candidates were first asked questions by moderators Sarah Trindell and Harrison Solenday. Each candidate touched on the main points of their campaign.
Taylor Dumpson emphasized the importance of collaboration between students. When asked about her priorities as president, Dumpson said that she would meet with as many student organizations as possible to receive their input. She also discussed her plan to enhance clubs by creating a better relationship with the AU Club Council and encouraging collaboration between clubs hosting similar events on campus.
“If we are fostering collaboration between campus clubs and organizations, it might allow us to utilize the space that we currently have in a better manner,” Dumpson said.
Andy Schwarz called for a budget cut from SG officials’ salaries. Schwarz said the purpose of this cut is to put the funds toward programs that would be helpful to a greater number of students. Schwarz used the JED Foundation Campus Program as an example. The program works with 144 universities nationwide to assist students with substance abuse and mental health.
“The cuts don’t have to be huge in the current student government budget to actually let the students do things that really matter to us rather than arguing with administration to get that done,” Schwarz said.
When asked about how he would better foster diversity and inclusion on campus, presidential candidate Terry Altherr responded by saying that a lot more needs to be done. Altherr suggested holding bi-monthly town halls to gauge how students feel on campus and to allow them to bring up concerns. He also called upon his own experience being marginalized as someone with autism and declared that those hurting others should be held accountable for their actions.
“We’re doing this as a long-term goal, but we are overlooking a lot of things,” Altherr said.
Haley Lickstein took a different approach when asked about diversity and inclusion. She proposed to split up the Director of Diversity and Inclusion’s responsibilities into sections with specialized directors for accessibility, LGBTQ and racial awareness. She also plans on demanding a report from the University on its plans to hire more faculty of color, making sure that all digital media from SG has captions for the hard of hearing, and advocating for LGBTQ students to change their pronouns and names on student documents.
“We know that there is a lot of listening to do and a lot of changes that have to happen, but these are a few of the things I really want to advocate for,” Lickstein said.
Vice presidential candidates Fedasiuk, Audra Gale and Solomon Self, along with comptroller candidate Christine Machovec also had the chance to speak. Comptroller candidate Elizabeth Pancotti, secretary candidate Kris Schneider, and vice presidential candidate Ryan Shepard were not able to make an appearance at the town hall.
When asked what values she would want associated with student government, Gale replied with honesty, transparency and the ability to capitalize on existing resources. If elected as VP, she plans to create an open dialogue with people on campus, collaborate with all parts of student government, and unify groups such as Student Union Board, Kennedy Political Union and Women’s Initiative to come up with new event ideas.
“I know it seems like a big task to get people to work together, but I know from being on student government that I do it because I care about people getting what they need on this campus,” Gale said.
In his response, Fedasiuk focused on his three main ideas from his platform: elevating student voices, hosting events that matter and fostering inclusion. He also discussed his experience coordinating events for KPU as an example of his ability to make new ideas for events a reality.
“I know what needs to change and I know how to change it,” Fedasiuk said.
Self focused his responses and his platform around the idea of cooperation between SG and other student organizations to create new events for students. He discussed his experience with collaborating with larger student organizations when he helped start Nourish AU, a club that aids in developing world countries.
“It’s not about the position, it’s about the job,” Self said. “I’m running to do the job.”
Machovec then discussed that she wants to make the position more visible and student-oriented if elected comptroller. She proposed releasing monthly comptroller reports that lay out each month’s accomplishments with feedback and holding frequent town halls to increase communication between her and the student body.
“Doing my job well means keeping the path open between me and the students,” Machovec said.